Morbid Obesity Linked To Higher Risk Of Death
January 2, 2013

Overweight People Have Lower Risk Of Death, Morbidly Obese Have Higher Risk

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

The New Year is upon us and many people take this time to make resolutions or goals of what they would like to accomplish within the next twelve months. Some of these goals may relate to weight loss, as people look to shed the holiday weight they have gained.

Researchers recently discovered that higher levels of obesity are linked to an elevated risk of death, while being overweight was connected to a lower risk of death.

In the study, the team of investigators looked at over 100 studies that included data on about three million adults; these adults were observed to better understand the impact of weight gain and weight loss. The research was conducted by the CDC National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland and the study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"Estimates of the relative mortality risks associated with normal weight, overweight, and obesity may help to inform decision making in the clinical setting," noted researchers in the background section of the paper.

With the study, the researchers were able to compile a list of published analyses on body mass index (BMI) and all-cause mortality that include hazard ratios (HRs) on health hazards for standard BMI groups. In general, BMI is found by comparing weight to height. The categories included overweight (BMI of 25 to 30), grade 1 obesity (BMI of 30 to 35), grade 2 and grade 3 obesity (BMI of greater than 35), as well as overall obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30). The scientists identified 97 different studies that gave a sample size of over 2.88 million individuals and over 270,000 deaths. The participants were from countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Europe, Israel, India, and Mexico.

The outcomes of the review and analyses showed that there was a six percent lower risk of death for those who were overweight, five percent lower risk of death for grade one obesity, 29 percent greater risk of death for individuals in grade two and grade three obesity, as well as an 18 percent higher risk for obese individuals at all grades. The researchers believe that these results are similar to past studies that have looked at the relationship between weight and overall mortality. Other groups have also found that there is lower mortality for individuals who are overweight or obese.

"Possible explanations have included earlier presentation of heavier patients, greater likelihood of receiving optimal medical treatment, cardioprotective metabolic effects of increased body fat, and benefits of higher metabolic reserves," commented the authors in a prepared statement.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of things that can be done to help prevent obesity. Many of the tips the organization provides are related to practicing a daily exercise regime and maintaining a healthy diet to decrease future chronic health issues. The American College of Sports Medicine also notes the importance of having 150 to 250 minutes of moderate-intensity of activity per week such as swimming and walking. Along with aerobic activity, individuals should aim to eat low-calorie, low fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.